STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA
v . Wake County
No. 05 CRS 126285, 125089
Attorney General Roy Cooper, by Kathleen M. Waylett, Special
Deputy Attorney General and W. Wallace Finlator, Jr.,
Assistant Attorney General, for the State.
Michael J. Reece, for defendant-appellant.
Donald Barnes (defendant) appeals from judgment entered on his convictions of first degree arson, damage to personal property, stalking, and communicating a threat. We find no error.
Defendant was tried before a Wake County jury in April 2006. The State's trial evidence tended to show, in pertinent part, the following: Rosalie Williams Snead (Snead) testified that she had a five year romantic relationship with defendant, starting in 2001. Their relationship was characterized by conflict, domestic violence, and frequent separations. In December 2005 the defendant was living with Snead in her apartment, located at 3133 Aileen Drive, in Raleigh. On 16 December 2005, while Snead was at a church party, the defendant left obscene messages on her cellphone. When she returned home after the party, defendant met her in the parking lot of their apartment complex and accused her of cheating on him.
Snead decided to separate from defendant. She told him to remove his possessions from the apartment because she planned to change the locks the next day. Snead left to spend the night with her friend, Tanya Jacobs (Jacobs). Defendant followed her, trying to force her off the road and eventually crashing his own vehicle into a median barrier. By the time Snead arrived at Jacob's house, defendant had already called several times, and during the next ten hours he telephoned approximately thirty (30) times, threatening both Snead and Jacobs.
The next morning, Snead went to the magistrate's office in downtown Raleigh to seek a restraining order. While she was there, defendant called her more than thirty (30) times and threatened her. Defendant also told Snead that he had damaged her car; this damage was later confirmed by a Raleigh law enforcement officer. When Snead gave her address to a police officer, she learned that there was a fire burning at her apartment building.
Jacob's testimony corroborated Snead's testimony that she spent the night at Jacob's house and that defendant made many threatening phone calls during the night. Raleigh police officers also testified about the events surrounding the fire at Snead's apartment. Officer Connors testified that at around 2:30 p.m. on 17 December 2005 he was dispatched to the apartment. When he arrived, the fire was extinguished, but there was still a lot ofsmoke. Firefighters on the scene told him that they suspected arson. Officer Rinks testified that he was dispatched to the Wake County magistrate's office in response to a reported incident of intentional damage to an automobile. While he was at the magistrate's office, defendant called more then (10) ten times and spoke to both Rinks and to Snead.
Firefighters from the Raleigh Fire Department testified about the nature and origin of the fire. Firefighter Mike Murray testified that at around 2:00 p.m. on 17 December 2005 he was dispatched to the fire at 3133 Aileen Drive. In Snead's apartment he found a small fire on the floor of the bedroom closet, which firefighters extinguished. Murray observed a lot of dense smoke and noted that Snead's bedspread was shredded and torn up. Firefighter Robert Harper corroborated Murray's testimony about the fire and the shredded comforter.
Firefighter Johnnie Dotson, Jr., an arson investigator with the Raleigh Fire Department, was qualified as an expert in fire investigations. He had investigated the fire at Snead's apartment, and testified that the origin of the fire was the bedroom closet. He estimated, based on the color and density of the smoke, that the fire burned for a significant amount of time before it was extinguished. He testified that the fire might have burned for between forty-five minutes and several hours before it was detected. The Fire Department eliminated candles and electrical wires as possible causes of the fire. Dotson testified that given the facts that we gathered from the police officers and thefirefighters, yes, we had come to the determination, Captain Boyette and myself, this was possibly a case of arson.
Captain David Boyette of the Raleigh Fire Department was also qualified as an expert in fire investigation. He corroborated Dotson's testimony that the fire had no apparent cause, and that they eliminated candles and electrical wires as possible sources. He testified that [f]rom what I saw I feel like it is [arson].
Sergeant Oosterhoudt of the Raleigh Police Department interviewed both Snead and the defendant. His recitation of what Snead had told him corroborated Snead's testimony. Oosterhoudt also testified that the defendant had stated that he had a key to the apartment and that he went there on 17 December 2005 to retrieve his clothes. Defendant had emphatically denied setting the fire.
Tony Miller, an engineer with a cell phone company, testified that he had reviewed defendant's cell phone records for the period between the night of 16 December and midday on 17 December 2005. Defendant's cell phone records showed that he telephoned Jacob's house and the magistrate's office about thirty (30) times each during this time. Miller also testified about technical records of the specific cell sites from which defendant's calls were made. These records indicated that shortly before 1:00 p.m. on 17 December 2005 defendant made a call that used the cell site about a third of a mile from 3133 Aileen Drive. The cell site records also indicated that on 17 December defendant had placed calls using cell sites in downtown Raleigh. The defendant did not present evidence.
Following the presentation of evidence, the jury found defendant guilty of first degree arson, damage to personal property, stalking, and communicating a threat. The trial court imposed a sentence of 117 to 150 months imprisonment for first degree arson, followed by a consolidated sentence of 150 days imprisonment for the three misdemeanor offenses. From these judgments and convictions, defendant appeals.
Report per Rule 30(e).
*** Converted from WordPerfect ***